My knee is permanently scarred from a close encounter with a tar and chip street. I also lost my virginity in the bicycle accident as I was riding a boy's bike and the bar slammed my pelvis in a bone crushing way. Okay, maybe I didn't technically lose my virginity, and I didn't even know what a virgin was at the time, but tell it to my younger self as she clutches herself in the grass and tries not to vomit at the side of the road.
Other than picking tarry rocks out of my knee, I kind of liked the tar and chip road. The tar bubbled and oozed on hot summer days. I skipped around and popped bubbles. I squiggled my bare feet in thick, black splotches. It's not like there were any cars getting in the way of my fun. I'm sure Mom loved the black tracks I made across the living room floor when I got home, but I often cleaned my feet first with gasoline. Yeah, very healthy. I feel kind of whoozy at the memory of the fumes.
Can you really remember being a child? Not just a mental picture like a snapshot in a photo album, can you feel the sun on your head? Smell the pine trees and tar? Hear the crickets chirping and the breeze blowing? Taste Grandma's cooking? See your own small body by looking down?
Creativity seems magical. Ideas can feel like divine inspirations we draw from outside of ourselves. Yet, I think most of creativity has real, tangible sources like observation and memory, skills all of us can develop.
I have to think a minute to remember what I had for dinner last night. Pea soup. Why bother remembering? It doesn't matter unless I want to describe it to someone else -- and creating is all about sharing something. If you want someone else to like your creations, appeal to a person's senses, the more senses the better. My pea soup has a lot of potatoes in it, carrots, snow peas... This is a shopping list. My stomach growled when the microwave dinged and I burned my fingers when I lifted the hot, creamy soup amidst the wafting cloud of thyme and tarragon... You see, more senses, more details, more interesting.
It's the same with painting. Many people draw something floating on a white piece of paper. Give it a background! Give it a shadow! Remember how things look in real life. Memory isn't magical. We all have it. Look around in your brain and see what's in there. Maybe your childhood street was cement. Maybe you chalked pictures on it? Can you taste the smell of chalk dust?
Then, after you've worked so hard to remember things and add details, start eliminating. If it doesn't add to the story you want to tell, erase it. In writing, I've decided I don't need the word "that". It's often a waste of space and I use it a lot. Delete. In a painting, maybe I put too many petals on a flower. Be willing to paint over, write over, everything unhelpful to your project. When I first wrote board reports, I thought I had to tell board members and bosses everything I thought was important. They don't care and don't have time to read it. I changed my ways and got praise for my 1-page, bulleted reports.
The painting above wasn't meant to be anything, and I just photoshopped street lines on it for IF's word for the week. I created the painting by fooling around with some cheap supplies and thought I'd use it as a background to something else. I like bits of it though, and now I'm not sure what to do with it. Maybe I'll use parts of it in something else, which is part of creativity too. Experiment, play, pop tar bubbles on the street and see where the road takes you.